For years, sweet tea has been known as the "drink of the South." On a hot summer day there seems to be nothing better than a cool, refreshing glass of sweet tea. In a restaurant in the South, it’s extremely rare to hear someone order "iced tea;" around here the tea is always "sweet." It seems people always associate Alabama with sweet tea, but that may not be the case much longer. No doubt, sweet tea will always be a staple drink for Southerners, but with wineries popping up all over Alabama, the infamous beverage may find itself sharing the limelight with another…wine.
There are ten locally owned and operated wineries in Alabama. They are found as far north as Albertville and as far south as Perdido. The wineries are: Jules J. Berta Vineyards in Albertville, Wills Creek Vineyards in Attalla, Morgan Creek Vineyards in Harpersville, Bryant Vineyards in Talladega, White Oak Vineyards in Anniston, Ozan Vineyards in Calera, Vizzini Farms Winery in Calera, The Fruithurst Winery Co. in Fruithurst, Whippoorwill Vineyards in Notasulga and Perdido Vineyards in Perdido. These wineries are businesses that make up the Alabama Wineries Association. The Association was formed in 2007 to help promote the state’s locally-crafted wines.
The Alabama Wine Trail is another way of promoting Alabama’s wines that are rapidly growing in popularity throughout the country. The Alabama Wine Trail is sponsored by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. All of the wineries in the state encourage visitors to stop, take a look at their farm and sample the different wines produced there. The Alabama Wine Trail is a perfect way for wine enthusiasts or just anyone interested in learning more about locally-produced wine to visit all of Alabama’s unique wineries.
When one embarks on the journey of the Alabama Wine Trail they will pick up a "passport" at the first winery they visit. After a tour of the winery and a sampling of wine the visitor will receive a stamp on the passport. They will continue to pick up stamps as they visit each participating winery on the trail until their passport card is filled. At the end of the trail, when they have received all the stamps, the visitor of the trail will receive a free commemorative Alabama Wine Trail glass.
Most of the wineries on the Alabama Wine Trail are open Monday through Saturday during regular business hours for guided tours and wine tastings, but others are just open on the weekends and by special appointment. It is always best to call ahead before venturing to any of the ten wineries.
Wine was once just a drink offered at many social gatherings. Today wine is being regarded as somewhat of a health drink. Studies have shown, when consumed in moderation, it can actually be beneficial to your health. This is due to the high levels of antioxidants found in grape wines, mostly muscadine wines. These antioxidants have been proven to help prevent blood clots and aid in defense of heart disease by keeping plaque from forming in the arteries. The muscadines grown in Alabama have actually been found to have five times more antioxidants than any other grapes.
Alabama has several different trails, one for civil rights, one for historic churches, one for birds and there’s even a shopping trail. The Alabama Wine Trail is one of the newest trails in the state, and is believed to be one of the best by many people who have visited the trail. The Alabama Wine Trail is a great journey for anyone looking to truly get a taste of Alabama and support local farmers while doing so.
For more information on the Alabama Wine Trail visit www.alabamawinetrail.org or contact the Alabama Mountain Lakes Association at www.northalabama.org. Most of the individual wineries have their own websites with information about their wines and hours of operations as well. All of the information for the ten wineries can be found on the Alabama Wine Trail website.
Mary-Glenn Smith is an AFC intern.